One of the challenges we receive from people is to describe what the Church is. Jesus Christ, in Matthew 16:18, described the Church as built on the rock that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The biblical Church does not even remotely coincide with what people tell us are the reasons why they don’t want to become part of a local church and live as Christ taught. People today are often confused about what the Church is, confusing it with what the Church is not:
1) The Church is not a building, and no money is involved in the construction of the Church described in the Bible. 2) The Church is not a political entity of any kind. (Matthew 22:21) 3) The Church is not made up of perfect people. The only thing Christians have that is not enjoyed by those outside of the Church is God’s forgiveness. 4) The Church’s message is not a bunch of “Thou shalt nots.” The message of Christ is what men and women SHOULD be doing, not the evil they might have done. 5) The Church is not a social club. Fellowship does not revolve around playing Bingo. The fellowship the Bible describes is support and help for hurting people. (James 5:13-20)
We find the biblical description of the Church in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 1:22-24, and Acts 2:44-47. Those passages describe the nature and power of the Church. Who cares for those who desperately need help – the homeless, the abandoned, those needing food, water, clothing, and shelter? Who reaches out to those in prisons and their families? Who reaches out to those broken by their previous mistakes and desperately wanting forgiveness from God and people? It isn’t the atheists, agnostics, or skeptics, but those who are part of the biblical Church.
People often confuse what the Church is not for what the Church is. Those who attack the Church are usually those unwilling to be part of the solution to today’s deepest problems. (John 3:17)
People in the abortion debate avoid the question of when a baby in the mother’s womb should be called a human. The scientific facts do not support attempts by abortion supporters to say that the baby is just an extension of the mother’s body and, like hair or fingernails, can be removed at the discretion of the mother. Should only the fit and wanted be allowed to survive?
One of the many evidences that the baby is a human and not an extension of the mother’s body is the issue of morning sickness. A new study reveals that the nausea may be caused by a protein called GDF15 produced by the fetus. The mother’s body rejects the protein as coming from a foreign object. Claims that morning sickness is psychological have been disproven and are “widely refuted.”
It is not hard to understand why a woman with an unwanted pregnancy would choose abortion. However, from a scientific standpoint, the fetus is a human. We need to emphasize the alternatives to killing an inconvenient child. Our culture must understand the value of human life. If we accept the idea of destroying anyone who places a burden on others, then killing Alzheimer patients, cancer patients, elderly people with limited life expectancy, and people with severe mental illness will be acceptable.
The Bible makes it clear that we are created in God’s image. All human life is precious, and each person has a purpose for existing. On the other hand, should only the fit and wanted be allowed to survive? Evolution says “yes.” While that may work for raising chickens, it is not what we want for the future of our children and grandchildren.
The National Park Service website has a page on ice worms that live in the glaciers of the Pacific coast of North America. This reminds me of a children’s book by Charlsey Ford that we published in 2005. Charlsey worked with us for many years in our efforts to show that science and faith are symbiotic and not adversarial. Charlsey’s book Animals of the Cold was illustrated by John W. Davis III and Alyssa Cain. It shows that God has placed life, such as ice worms and ooligans, even in the most hostile locations on Earth.
Tiny ice worms live in colonies of thousands in a square meter of a glacier. According to the National Park Service, they are so well suited for the cold that they will “melt” at room temperature as their cells become liquified. Ice worms live in tunnels in the glacier ice and eat algae, bacteria, pollen, and dust that falls on the glacier. Ice worms produce soil that allows plants to grow in a desolate place. Birds such as the snow bunting feed on the worms. Being at the bottom of the food chain, ice worms provide the basis for life in glaciated areas.
The ooligan is another life form uniquely designed to live in very cold climates. Ooligans are sometimes called “candlefish” because they contain so much oil that if you dry the fish and light a wick in its mouth, it will burn like a candle. Native people in the Bering Sea area have used ooligans for centuries as food and medicine. Ice worms and ooligans are two of the beautifully designed organisms that allow life to exist in extreme environments.
Life on planet Earth fits well with the words of Romans 1:19-22 which tells us we can know there is a God through the things He has made. From deserts to dark, deep ocean habitats, we can see that a wonder-working hand has gone before.
Note: Copies of Animals of the Cold are available for $2.00 to cover postage from the Does God Exist? Ministry, 1555 Echo Valley Drive, Niles, MI 49120, or you can purchase the entire set of Does God Exist? children’s books from the PowerVine.store website.
In-vitro fertilization has become the latest issue in the political battle. In IVF, multiple eggs are harvested from a woman and then are fertilized and implanted to create a pregnancy. The usual method is to freeze the embryo produced for later implantation. The National Embryo Donation Center says that the number of frozen embryos nationwide is around a million, and nearly 100,000 babies are born annually by IVF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The IVF war has become a problematic political issue.
After Roe v Wade was made law in 1973, frozen embryos were treated by the courts as private property, and donors could implant them, give them away, or have them destroyed. In February 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created during the IVF process are “extrauterine children” and have the same rights as any other child.
This issue has produced massive legal hassles. Two couples have sued the company that accidentally destroyed their frozen embryos. Vice President Kamala Harris has been giving speeches that she calls “The Reproductive Rights Tour.” The Democratic party has brought back the overturning of Roe v Wade to make this issue a major one for their 2014 campaign. Various Republicans have taken the view that embryos are babies, but the leaders are in favor of IVF. The IVF war is not nearing a solution.
In the IVF procedure, multiple eggs are taken from the woman, fertilized, and then implanted in the woman’s uterus. The medical experts pick the one or two that look the most promising to implant in the womb and often discard the others. If there are ten eggs and eight are discarded, have eight people been murdered? Advancements in IVF technology have reduced the number of errors in this process, but there are still mistakes.
Any time humans try totake over what God has created, the result is complicated. IVF is one of many issues that resulted from advancements in medical technology. Christians need to be aware of the IVF war and try to help find solutions, not just engage in a battle of words with unbelievers.
We have mentioned before the role the Church has in fighting loneliness, including anxiety, depression, dementia, and thoughts of suicide. Now, heart specialists and the United States Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, have expanded the negative role of loneliness. Murthy says that “feeling disconnected from friends and family has the same impact as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, the physical effects of loneliness include a 29% higher risk of heart disease, a 32% higher risk of stroke, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia, and a 60% increase in premature death. The bottom line is that social isolation affects the heart.
The importance of being actively involved with people, such as in a church congregation, cannot be over-emphasized. “Going to church” for an hour once a week does not help much in dealing with this issue. The Church described in Acts 2:41-47 was a group of believers who met together daily. Not only were they together sharing meals and times of worship, but they addressed each other’s needs. Church leaders today must understand that being active in a church cannot happen if the church is not active. I had a brother who was an atheist and retreated from family and all social contact. Alcoholics Anonymous was his only tool to fight social isolation, and his participation in that program was very sporadic. He died prematurely of heart failure.
Hebrews 10:24-25 gives a formula for avoiding social isolation. “Let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another with a view to arousing one another to brotherly love and right conduct; not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together as some do, but encouraging one another…” Church attendance is declining worldwide, and much of that is because people see no value in what the Church is doing. Saving souls is important, but contributing to each other’s well-being must not be neglected because social isolation affects the heart.
The dictionary defines “anthropomorphize” as attributing human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object, such as people’s tendency to anthropomorphize their dogs. We can probably blame Disney for much of this. Beginning with Micky Mouse in “Steamboat Willie,” numerous cartoons have presented animals with human actions, including singing. Even scientific articles tell about whales and birds singing. The fact is that only humans have the unique capacity to compose songs and use them in a variety of human experiences, including singing in praise to God.
When a cardinal “sings” his song outside your window, he is really warning other cardinals to stay out of his territory. Whale songs are communication devices to locate food sources and attract mates. When Penny Patterson taught Koko the gorilla to use the sign language of the deaf, he learned that he would receive a reward. One of my favorite stories about Koko was that when Patterson taught him to recognize a yellow streak on a canvas as a banana, he identified yellow hats and yellow ties as bananas. Only humans could compose a song such as “Yes! We Have No Bananas.”
Humans use singing in many ways. The Psalms in the Bible are creative songs useful for memorizing and conveying spiritual values. The Genesis account of creation is actually a song. Being a song doesn’t make it untrue, but it is a uniquely human way to express and memorize history and values. Have you ever wondered why each military service has its own song? Why do we sing songs at weddings, funerals, and when camping? Singing is a way to express love and praise for others or God, and it can create unity. Most of us remember “We Shall Overcome,” and some will recall the protest song “Abraham, Martin and John,” referring to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding (CSB).” Only humans can do these things, and no evolutionary explanation is supported by evidence. We are created in the image of God, and singing in praise to God is an expression of that unique creation.
The transgender issue in women’s sports grows nearly every day. As we have mentioned previously, biological males have an advantage when they claim to be females and participate in women’s sports. Here are some examples of this issue in women’s sports:
Lia Thomas is a six-foot-four-inch biological male who ranked in the 400s in the men’s swimming division but is now a top-ranked swimmer in the women’s division.
Valentina Petrillo is a biological male who identifies as transgender and won the women’s 400-meter bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris in July of 2023.
Austin Kippips is a biological male who finished five minutes ahead of all female competitors to win the Belgian Waffle Ride, a 131-mile cycling event in North Carolina, in June of 2023.
Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood ranked first and second in Connecticut in the girls’ 55-meter dash. Previously, they had ranked 120th and 195th in the male category.
In addition to the locker room and restroom problems, coed dormitory issues in private colleges, and now women’s sports issues, the pressure on legislators to do something is growing. However, this issue continues without any action for fear of the political consequences.
We need to keep in mind the growing transgender issue in women’s sports when we vote for politicians. God designed our bodies, and when we make changes to what God created, we invite pain and suffering for everyone.
One of the challenges produced by the progress in medicine is the question of the role of doctors when a patient nears the time of death. In the old days, doctors had a code that said they would “do no harm,” which resulted in extending life without quality of life.
I had a personal experience with this issue when my disabled son Timothy was in the hospital after contracting COVID from a care worker. Doctors told me that Tim would never recover, but they had to give him a standard COVID treatment. Tim did survive but was not allowed to have any contact with family. He could not talk, was blind, could not stand or sit up, and could not feed himself. Eventually he was placed in a nursing home where I was allowed to visit him, and I did weekly. Although he could hear me, he was unable to respond. I read to him, tried to feed him, and ensured his stuffed animals were around him. After more than a year in the nursing home, he died.
The question in a case like Timothy’s becomes whether a doctor should be allowed to assist in dying when the apparent result was extending life without quality of life. Laws in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada allow doctors to administer euthanasia. The next step in these countries is to allow physicians to provide medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill. Canada has delayed the implementation of that option for physicians until 2027 to allow doctors and facilities time to adjust to this new law. Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has advocated for euthanasia for virtually any cause.
For Christians, the issue is especially relevant. The New Testament in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says that God’s Spirit lives in our bodies and that the body is sacred for that reason. I Corinthians 6:15-17 uses that view to explain why prostitution is a sin. As modern medical science has advanced to the point of extending human life, it has also found ways to eliminate pain, but my son never showed evidence of suffering from pain. The problem remains of extending life without quality of life.
Euthanasia involves the same issues as abortion. Singer would empty prisons, nursing homes, and mental facilities by applying euthanasia to the people there. The fact is that much of the money spent on medical treatment is spent during the last year of life. Think of the savings if we were to eliminate everyone deemed to be within a year of dying. Do we really want to live in a culture that uses death as a means of removing a person who is inconvenient or difficult to sustain? But isn’t that what abortion is all about?
When I was a teenager, I had a severe gastrointestinal problem that eventually resulted in the removal of my appendix. Doctors told me the appendix was a vestigial organ left over from my evolutionary past. The narrative was that while my hominid ancestors needed an appendix, I didn’t. In my college class on evolution, the professors told us the appendix was essentially a second stomach that animals needed to process coarse food. As humans evolved, we didn’t eat those foods, so removal of the useless appendix would not cause any problems.
Like many evolutionary arguments, this discussion of the appendix is rooted in ignorance. The appendix is a small worm-like organ that projects from the cecum, which is the first part of the large intestine. Charles Darwin identified the appendix as vestigial because people could live without it. With the information available to him at the time, Darwin’s view seemed reasonable and went unchallenged for a very long time. We now know better.
In contrast to the former call for removal of the useless appendix, we now know that it has at least two beneficial uses. The first is that it helps to support the immune system. The appendix has a high concentration of tissue that fights any bad things that might get into our gut. The second function, brought forward by Duke University researchers in 2007, is what they called a “safe house.” The appendix serves as a safe reservoir for our beneficial gut bacteria. A gastrointestinal problem resulting in diarrhea can flush out all of your good gut bacteria. The appendix repopulates the gut with bacteria after gastrointestinal issues.
People who have had their appendix removed tend to have more nasty bacteria in their gut than people who have not had that surgery. There is much about the human body that we don’t understand. In my lifetime, I have seen tonsils, gallbladders, and the appendix removed because medical science felt they served no purpose. We now know better as we see that God’s design of the human body is incredible. There may be a few things, such as body hair, that are unnecessary, but there are aesthetic reasons to retain even most of those.
Today is President’s Day in the United States, and it seems appropriate to think about some warnings from the past by our first president. On September 19, 1796, George Washington spoke to the young United States about the dangers the future could bring. It was his farewell address as president, and he said many prescient things as if he could see into the country’s future. He was not a prophet who could see the future, but he was a student of the past and knew the history of other nations.
Washington warned against minor factions bending the laws to put their needs above the needs of others. He warned about the dangers of excessive partisanship, making dangerous foreign alliances, going into debt, and engaging in unnecessary wars. He said the country must follow the Constitution, which creates checks and balances between the government’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. He saw the dangers of allowing a consolidation of power into one branch or person because of selfish human nature. He did not want to be a king, and he did not want the nation to be under a human king.
Of George Washington’s many warnings from the past, there is none more important than his warning about the need for religion and morality to preserve the country. Here is a portion of what Washington had to say about that:
“Of all the dispostions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports. … Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Thus, Washington said that morality is essential for preserving the nation and that morality cannot be maintained without religion. He also noted that “institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge” are of primary importance. The message of the Does God Exist? ministry is that scientific knowledge is compatible with faith in God. More than that, knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ and a faith commitment to follow Him leads to morality. Washington’s warnings from the past call for the strengthening of knowledge and religious faith. Today, the United States needs more leaders who share Washington’s wisdom.